Nigerian authorities have a duty to protect the country’s sovereignty by moving against any entity that allows its platform to be used to promote hate speech and incite violence in the disguise of freedom of speech.
According to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), the decision to temporarily suspend the microblogging site, Twitter, in the country is in line with the country’s interest.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the group expressed disappointment that Western diplomats from countries which are not known to tolerate activities that could breach their national interests issued a joint statement condemning the Nigerian government’s action on Twitter.
“We make bold to say that none of these countries would tolerate what Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu reeled out in a follow-up statement to the announcement made by Information Minister Lai Mohammed on the suspension of the microblogging site.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Presidency made it clear that major tech companies ‘cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart’.
“We would want to know which part of the quoted statement does not resonate with those countries that condemned Nigeria’s action because it amounts to double standard if the UK does not see anything wrong with even moving against protesters, not to talk about religious extremists, but find offensive, measures taken against an outlet that is facilitating or encouraging acts of criminality.
“We recall how Twitter itself suspended the accounts of Americans who were accused of inciting other people in the aftermath of the electoral victory of the US President Joe Biden, but which supporters of the former President Donald Trump described as an abridgement of freedom of speech.
“US national interest was also described as the reason, the platform deleted #FreeAlexSaab tweets even though it has to do with the detention of an individual in Cape Verde that the ECOWAS court had declared as illegal.
“So we endorse the decision by the foreign affairs ministry to summon the envoys of those countries with a view to showing them where and how they erred.
“Besides, it is only a suspension, not a ban and we are convinced that Twitter would be back as soon as it abides by the conditions set by the country”, it added.
BMO also described the reaction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Twitter’s suspension as not unexpected.
“It would be totally out of character for the opposition party to hail any step taken by President Muhammad Buhari and the All Progressives Congress APC-led government.
“This is a party that thrives on disinformation, as well as anything it feels, could erode the achievements of the ruling party in six years, so we don’t expect its leadership to see the big picture.
“Nigerians should note that the party that prides itself as the most popular in the South East region has never come out publicly to condemn the activities of the so-called ‘unknown gunmen’ or the regular use of Twitter and other social media platforms by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to incite violence against security operatives and destruction of infrastructure in the region.
“We wonder whether PDP’s silence is not a tacit endorsement of the group or the havoc being wreaked in the region that President Buhari is doing so much for in terms of projects than what the former ruling party did in 16 years.”
BMO assured Nigerians that the temporary suspension would be lifted as soon as Twitter commits to taking steps to prevent anarchists from using its platform to fuel hate and violence in the country.